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Amanda Drahos (French '12) is finishing a year in France, where she has been "teaching English to cigarette-smoking high schoolers on mopeds," and is now looking to head back to the states where she hopes to find more permanent work teaching French to non-smoking high schoolers who are much less likely to be driving mopeds. She also shares some interesting insights on the kind of teaching and learning she has witnessed in France: "You would not believe how different teaching is over here. My pedagogical world was literally turned upside down when I came to France--they do so much lecturing, note-taking, and 'traditional' learning. The general mentality is 'if they fail that's their problem,' and different styles of teaching just really don't exist! The first time I had my kids do a skit in English they literally looked at me like I had three heads. I think I'm embodying 'that crazy progressive American teacher' very well!" To which we, of course, say: Tres bien!
Kathryn O’Hara (History ’10), a former history major and elementary certification student, is currently enrolled in a Master's program at Boston College for Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology. Prior to returning to graduate school, Kathryn worked as a special education aide at public school in NJ and was placed in the school's autism classroom. Says Kathryn, “It was a great experience and I learned a lot, but I also realized that most of my students had started out in general education classrooms or were being mainstreamed into general education rooms and the teachers had no idea what to do with them.” Kathryn notes that this experience encouraged her to return to graduate school because she “can get a really deep background in educational psychology, learning disabilities and classroom practice that will make me a more competitive job candidate and a better prepared teacher!” In her graduate program, Kathryn is conducting a project where she works one-on-one with a student, assesses his or her reading level, and implements an intervention. She says she is using many of the skills she gained in her education program at Gettysburg to help her with this project and many others! She is also enjoying her new neighborhood in Boston.
Ellen Speake (English ’10) has a passion for education and social justice. After completing an internship with a Mastery Charter School in West Philadelphia, Pa. during her junior year, she returned to campus knowing her work with the institution wasn’t over yet. The English major maintained a connection with her colleagues throughout her senior year, and even helped bring prospective students to Gettysburg for admissions tours. Towards the end of her senior year, Speake was offered a position at the school and she happily accepted. “My education courses definitely prepared me for my job,” she said. “My favorite course was Urban Education; not only was it centered around urban education, but it also blended several different components. I enjoyed the instructional knowledge that I gained, examining policy with respect to urban education, and looking at the different ways cities are trying to address the achievement gap. And the service-learning component was phenomenal!”
Nick Cala (History ’10) knew he wanted to be a high school social studies teacher early in life and hasn’t changed his mind. He’s currently enrolled in the Teaching of Social Studies program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “When I’m learning about a certain concept, such as the hidden curriculum, I’m able to build on the web of connections that my professors at Gettysburg have already helped me make,” he said. “I feel extremely capable when it comes to taking part in informed discussions about the classroom.” A history major, he loved the way the best psychology, civics, and history courses were as much about the opinions of students as the content of the courses. But it was Prof. Powell’s Social Studies Methods course that made a major impact on his path to a career in teaching. “He united a study of some of the deepest issues of social studies - historical thinking, truth, the construction of in-groups and out-groups - with the possibilities that those issues have in the classroom,” said Cala. “Even having taken a year of graduate courses dealing with the teaching of social studies, it’s difficult for me to think of a time when I felt as engaged as I was in that class.”
Drew Wolenter (Mathematics, ’11) is more likely to build a classroom than work in one. He serves as an AmeriCorps National Direct Member with the Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake organization, where every day is like the first day of school. “I’m the teacher and my volunteers are the students,” he said. “During the morning talk, which touches on safety and daily goals, I use the techniques I learned while at Gettysburg.” One of his favorite lessons learned in his education courses has also proven to be one of the most important: teachers should question their techniques to try and improve. A math major, he values his liberal arts education because he believes it encouraged him to be curious about the world around him. “If you meet somebody who does something completely different than you, embrace it as an opportunity to learn something awesome about a topic you may not have known about otherwise.”
Class of '01
Brett Thorp (Psychology, '01), a certified elementary school teacher, is now an elementary school principal in New Jersey.
Class of '06
Tony Angelini (History, '06), when he is not moonlighting as an adjunct instructor of Educationla Foundations at his alma mater or starring in ads for Highmark, holds down a day job as a teacher of English and social studies at New Oxford Middle School in the Conewago Valley School District.
Class of '08
Lindsay McCoy Anderson (English, '08) completed a Master's degree in English literature and is teaching 8th grade English in Florida.
Erin Smith (Physics, '08) has been working as a private tutor since graduation and recently accepted a position to teach 8th grade math in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley. She is certified in physics and chemistry as well as math, and is also pursuing a certificate to teach biology.
Class of '10
Kara O'Brien (Mathematics, '10) is a 7th grade teacher in Biglerville, Pennsylvania--just up the road! She visits frequently to assist student teachers in their efforts to land full time positions after graduation.
Jennie Pagano (Biology, '10) is teaching at Francis Scott Key High School in Carroll County, Maryland, and was, at last check, pursuing a Master's degree in education at McDaniel College. She often joins Kara O'Brien at the resume workshop conducted for student teachers here on campus.
C.J. Rauch (Political Science & French, '10) was recently accepted to an M.Phil. program in Policy, Development, and Democratic Education at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
Class of '11
Becky DeMott (Math, '11) is teaching high school mathematics in Billerica, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, and basking in the glow of the wamr reception she received when she visited campus for Get Acquainted Day in April, 2013. The reception was so warm, in fact, that we expect to have her back every year!
Alicia Pepe (English, '11) is a 4th grade teacher in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, a job that saved her, as she put it, from "starting to consider some ridiculous options, like working in a cruise ship or running children's birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese." We knew it wouldn't come to that. Alicia is also assiduously applying the lessons she learned about telling the truth in social studies class, drawing on her experiences in our program to help students see the value of historical thining and inquiry. We couldn't be prouder of her.
Class of '12
Arielle Distasio (English, '12), former Curtis Award recipient, accepted a position with the Department of Justice after graduation and hopes to parlay her expertise in teaching into a position as an instructor with the Department of Justice.
Andrew McCamley (History, '12) accepted a position as a Resident Advisor at SEED Public Charter School in Washington, DC ("yes," he says, "the one in Waiting for Superman"), where he works with 10th and 11th graders as a planner of extracurricular activities, a manager of study hall and community service, and as a teacher of social skills.
Nick Scerbo (History, '12) is a jack-of-all-trades at Mater Dei Prep in New Monmouth, New Jersey, where he teaches courses in everything from U.S. history to criminal justice to sports management to personal finance and also helps out as an assistant football coach. That's the liberal arts at work, people.